The hematopoietic stimulating activity of a human lung cancer cell line, MC-1, was investigated. The protein fraction (MC-1 protein) was prepared from the serum-free culture supernatant of MC-1 cells using hydroxyapatite and concanavalin A-agarose columns. In serum-containing cultures, MC-1 protein stimulated colony formation by megakaryocyte colony-forming units (CFU), erythroid burst-forming units and granulocyte/macrophage (GM) CFU. The stimulating effect was strongest for megakaryocyte CFU. The factor having megakaryocyte colony-stimulating activity was shown to be a protein whose molecular weight was determined to be 23,000 daltons by gel filtration. By various analyses, this protein was shown to be molecularly different from the heretofore-identified cytokines that may affect megakaryocytopoiesis, i.e., interleukin-1 (IL-1), IL·2, IL-3, IL·6, IL-7, IL-11, granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (CSF), macrophage CSF, GM-CSF, leukemia inhibitory factor, stem cell factor and tumor necrosis factor. Under serum-free conditions, MC-1 protein augmented murine megakaryocyte colony formation in the presence of murine IL·3 and increased the acetylcholinesterase activity of purified murine megakaryocytes. It was also shown that MC-1 protein stimulated human megakaryocyte colony formation. It was concluded that MC-1 cells produce a megakaryocyte potentiator which is molecularly different from any heretofore-identified cytokines.